Union information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari on Friday questioned the Punjab government's move to sell power to Pakistan when the state was still "massively power deficient".
"It is strange that the Akali-BJP government in Punjab is trying to illuminate Lahore while Punjab continues to remain enveloped in darkness due to massive power shortage," he remarked.
Reacting to the reports that the Punjab government was planning to sign a power-selling agreement with Pakistan Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, Tewari wondered as to from where would Punjab get the power to export it to Pakistan since the state during the peak demand was still short of power by about 6,000 MWs. "Even when all the power plants get fully operational, Punjab will still be short of power by about 4,000 MWs," he said, while questioning the logic of exporting power under such circumstances.
"Just because the state government has inaugurated two units in two thermal plants at Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo, generating 1,300 MWs more does not mean the state is power sufficient and can even export it," he observed, while adding that Punjab had a long way to go before it could even be self-sufficient in power production.
The minister wondered as to how could Punjab think of selling power when the industry during the peak demand was subjected to four-day power cuts a week. He pointed out that even in the agriculture sector the state was not able to supply the promised eight-hour power.
Besides, he said, there was no end to the unscheduled power cuts in Punjab during the last year.
Giving details, Tewari, who represents Ludhiana parliamentary constituency, said the total availability of power in Punjab from all sources, state as well as the central pool was not more than 8,000 MW and this was far too less than the peak demand of 14,000 MW. He said it could be anybody's guess as how a power-deficit state can even think of exporting power. "Nothing can be far from the truth than someone claiming that Punjab was power surplus," he remarked.
The minister said the state government appeared to have been swept away by the over-enthusiasm over the inauguration of two units of Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo. "But let me remind the state government that it does not have any direct control over the power generated from these units as these are owned by private power companies which have no commitment to supply power to Punjab," he said, adding that it was a classic case of someone trying to sell someone else's horse.